And So She Wrote a Letter to Mablog Instead

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Goldbergian Thoughts

On Goldberg: Not surprisingly, this is perhaps one of the more engaging and edge-of-the-seat kind of reading I’ve ever laid eyes upon. Throughout your critique, I see your love and respect for the man while taking him—kindly—behind the woodshed, not for a beating—the kind which I most certainly would have given—but for a thorough talkin’ to. Yours was a pastor’s rebuke, Doug, and a very kind one interlaced utterly with firmness. I’m left with a simple, “Wow…well done, sir.”

Malachi

Malachi, thanks for the kind words.


I am with you both in loving Jonah, his intellect and his incisive writing style, and also in having felt all too often that he is mistletoe and doesn’t recognize the tree he’s situated in, or even whether he is actually in a tree. That’s why it’s so hard for him to celebrate Christmas.

Jim

Jim, right. He is immersed in something he really appreciates, but because he is immersed in it, he doesn’t feel all that wet.


You are behind the curve. The Boy Scouts no longer exist.

Jeff

Jeff, yes. I was talking about groups that gave people meaning. Now the Scouts just offer extra meaning.


The entire notion of a “Miracle” presupposes a higher power, does it not? If you want to take God out of the equation, do you not also need to equate life in the USA with life in the Gulag—just to be consistent?

Melody

Melody, exactly right. Miracles exhibit intelligent design.


Re: The Goldberg Write-up “But there is, as we bilingual people sometimes like to say, an el problemo.” This is simultaneously the best and worst Spanglish I have ever read. Congradulations :) Anyway, thanks for the review. I haven’t read the book yet. I generally appreciate Goldberg but all the no-God talk surrounding this book (I subscribe to his podcast) has kind-of soured me toward it. I appreciated Liberal Fascism. But I’ll probably end up skipping the Suicide of the West (ern Commentator). Or at least waiting ‘til winter.

Nathan

Nathan, muy thankee.


Re. book review of Suicide of the West. Your statement, “The way you demonstrate that we are endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights is through preaching the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you want inalienable rights in the 1770s, you needed to have had a Great Awakening in the 1740s. Just like we desperately need an awakening now.” is in the running for the quote of the year. Six months to go . . .

John

John, many thanks.


Goldberg has addressed this whole “there is no God in this book” idea in his own podcast. I’m too lazy to find the exact quotation. (Hope you listen to “The Remnant”—for the most part it’s great.) His argument is that he was trying to get people to see how all this here capitalism works down on the ground without dragging religion into it. Probably not all that great of an idea, though. Anyway, I so agree with you that he’s just the greatest. My heart leaps every Friday when I see his G-File land in my inbox.

Debi

Debi, yes. But as I know you recognize, men don’t let capitalism work down here on the ground if there is no God. They are too busy trying to become God themselves. And that is how we get control economies.


The Snare of Socialism

Can you please define what you mean by “socialism?” I am assuming you mean any form of distributive wealth, but there’s an obvious difference between Venezuela and Sweden and America (all of which practice socialism at some level). 2. Many supporters of socialism are wealthy (most?) and would argue that they are supporting this cause on behalf of the poor. They can hardly be envious of the rich considering they would stand to pay higher taxes and lose money in a more socialistic economy. 3. Somewhat off-topic: But it seems to me that the most ardent defenders of slavery are also the most ardent voices against taxation and for liberty and freedom. Is there a disjunction here? I think most people believe that any form of slavery is a far worse affront to freedom and liberty than a high marginal tax rate (by far). 4. Relatedly: How is it that some forms of slavery are good “and in agreement with freedom and liberty” but all forms of socialism are sinful? How would you define sinful/lawful taxation? Sinful and lawful/slavery? These answers may be in your books, which I haven’t read. Thank you

Joe

Joe, by socialism I mean redistributive policies concerning wealth. Taxation ought to be for services rendered, and those services ought to be legitimate functions of government, biblically defined. 2. Wealthy people can be consumed by envy also, and frequently are. 3. It is not quite accurate to speak about “defenders of slavery.” Given slavery (as in the first century), what is the best way of getting rid of it? I would take a similar approach (reformation, not revolution) in getting rid of socialism—as great a social evil as slavery. In fact it is as great a social evil as slavery because it is slavery. 4. The goal is to extend liberty, biblically defined, as far as we can, as rapidly as we can. This means gospel first, baptizing the nations, and then teaching them obedience to the words of Christ.


Re: Suicidal Socialism. Thanks for pointing out envy. I’ve noted a sense of entitlement recently in one of my young sons and this post recalls to me things he has said that show envy within his heart as well. I don’t think the two things are far apart. A tough reminder as Father’s Day approaches and I am reminded once again that he gets his sinful nature from me. The poor little guy wants to be just like me when he grows up. I want him to be so much more. I would encourage all the dads reading to try to point “in” at sin not “out” at it. And then fight it. For Father’s Day, ask your kids for forgiveness.

Nathan

Nathan, yes. Politics begins at home.


Doc Wilson—great article. I agree as far as you go. I would add one more thing: In addition to the envious masses who would rather see wealth destroyed than be owned by someone else, there is another key ingredient to “the great revolution,” often found in the leadership—the Messianic impulse. There really are intelligent, passionate, sometimes even well-meaning people who think something akin to a literal Heaven-on-earth is possible as long as they can be in charge and get everyone to do what they say. This is a religious idea that stretches to their ideological core, which is why they simply cannot stand to have anyone in their midst opposing their pursuit of limitless power. They really think they’re leading the charge toward the salvation of man. Is it any coincidence that the famous German word “Heil,” famous for “Heil Hitler” and often mistranslated as meaning “Hail” or “Victory,” actually translates to “Salvation”? Thanks,

Austin

Austin, yes. If you haven’t already read it, I would recommend Thomas Sowell’s Vision of the Anointed.


Brother, I have been heartened by your wisdom and fearlessness in this day when apostasy seems to be the trajectory of far too many churches that forget that God-in-Trinity is Love and that real love warns of mortal danger (Ezekiel 3:18-19). Here is another article that examines the false “Spiritual Friendship” premise behind Revoice.

Jim

Jim, thanks so much.


Was Puritan Piety Precious?

How does that mystical strain of historical Puritanism, represented by men like Samuel Rutherford and Isaac Ambrose, figure into your cautions against overly feminine expressions of devotion to Christ? Does the fact that they lived in a more manly age account for the legitimacy in their plumbing Song of Solomon for their own personal prayer language? Queequeg and Ishmael casually share a bed in New Bedford under the shared assumption that they were proper men, where we, in our age, would share no such assumption upon meeting someone in a crowded inn in New England. In other words, is the mystical, nearly romantic, language Rutherford prays in available to us only after performing a haka or two? Or were the Puritan mystics, themselves, a little out of line? Thanks,

Philip

Philip, I think they were protected more than we are because of the prevailing sexual wisdom that surrounded them. But I still think such personal expressions of piety are unwise, even for them. I would recommend Leon Podles’ book The Church Impotent. This particular error runs back to Bernard of Clairvaux.


White and Wilson

Pastor Wilson, I can’t find it, but I seem to remember you mentioning that some new debate between you and James White regarding textual issues would be forthcoming. This was probably within the last six months. Am I imagining this? Real or imagined, I have been looking forward to it.

Will

Will, no, you were not imagining that. The debate did occur, and is available here.


Incel Suicides

Kevin Williamson uses nearly identical language describing the un-metaphorical murder-suicides in the incel movement: link

Dan

Dan, thanks.


Casuistry and Slavery

Your article waving the Gadsden flag has brought back some Christian ethics questions I had been meaning to ask you about for some time. There are few men, if any, whose ideals and understanding of the Scriptures that I respect more than yours, so your thoughts on this matter mean a great deal to me. In situations of cruelty in slavery, when does it become right for the ones enslaved to fight with force to the point of taking a life and no longer tolerating the injustice? I recognize the Bible provides scenarios where individuals should be willing to take life without assuming guilt (executioner of the state, soldier, dad against a home invader trying to harm his family). But what about situations where the “law” and even society at large would not support your resistance to the cruelty or defend your basic human rights issued by God? I particularly have in mind instances of slave masters raping slaves, selling off the children of their slaves, and even the process of forcefully being enslaved by cruel masters. I’d like to think I would have no problem taking the life of someone stop them kidnapping my child, raping my wife, or stealing me and unjustly making me live a life of forced labor. Even if I were to lose the battle, I’d choose death over the alternative. Give me liberty or death. What if my slave master likes to hand my wife over to his buddies for pleasure when he hosts them? What if I’m responsible for giving him his morning shave? Am I free (am I righteous) to lay into his jugular with the razor to protect my wife? It seems to me that as her husband I’m assigned to be her earthly protector and would therefore be obligated to put a stop to it. I know I would certainly want to in that circumstance. What if he is going to “sell” my young children to someone else and thus separate them from their parents for a life time? Am I free (righteous) to incite an uprising and go to war with these wicked “owners?” What if my owner just likes whipping me for pleasure? In situations of slavery, when does it become “OK” for one person to tell another, “No, I’m not going to let you physically harm me without just cause and I will resist you unto your own death if you continue to try” regardless of what anybody, governing or not, thinks or says? Additionally, how obligated are you to resist to the point of the violator’s death to stop someone from committing these acts against someone who is defenseless? I’m in agreement that if the ceasing of chattel slavery can be achieved through restoring proper law and order from the top down without a war unto death, then that should definitely be pursued. But how much of the violations described above do you tolerate in the mean time? And how long do you tolerate it? What’s the threshold for those suffering and for those witnessing the suffering? When are you to take a stance of self-defense or family defense in that sort of circumstance? I’ve heard you speak on the ungodliness of vigilante justice and I am in agreement. You had mentioned how just about every Hollywood action movie is built around vigilante justice and not due process and coercion remaining in the hands of the magistrate. I had never really noticed that pattern in movies before until you pointed it out, but you’re absolutely right and now it’s the only thing I can see when I watch a movie that involves a guy with a gun. Would the above scenarios of resistance to cruelty from a slave master be classified as vigilante justice? I am somewhat familiar with the doctrine of the lesser magistrate and the godliness of the lesser magistrate resisting to the point of war with a higher magistrate and the godliness of rendering your services to that lesser magistrate. But what about scenarios where the only God ordained authority structure for miles around in favor of you not suffering the types of personal and familial violations previously described is self-government?

Rope

Rope, when you are describing a hypothetical scenario, or writing a book or screenplay, you can configure it in such a way that taking violent steps to defend yourself is feasible. But in real time, it is often much more hopeless than that. Read Frederick Douglass for a sense of that kind of helplessness—and he was in Maryland. Now move it hundreds of miles further south. I believe that such slave uprisings would be, if unsuccessful, a mere gesture, and if successful, almost certainly a bloodbath. I believe that a more prudent way to deal with it would be through an escape, running away. Moreover, it is an approach that Scripture defends. “You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you” (Deut. 23:15, ESV).


On that Drive-By Shot at Recorders I Took:

I don’t know the context here, and I imagine that causes it to make a lot more sense, but as it stands, this passage bewilders me. I’ll bet there’s some pretty peppy recorder music out there from the early modern period, and I’d further wager that some people could find that pretty motivating. While I get what I think is the underlying point that some things are more appropriate to some contexts than others, I think this a very odd example. Does something have to be loud with a lot of bass in order to be energizing? That cuts out pretty much everything before Beethoven as being good background music for an active life, and do we really want to do that?

Jane

Jane, I take your point. I had a particular kind of recorder music in mind (suitable for the wine and cheese deal). But what recorder music couldn’t be spiced up a bit with a driving bass line?


When Repentance is in Fashion?

This question isn’t related to a specific post but instead to a theme you hit on often. In things like the #metoo movement and racial reconciliation, you have explained that it is wrong for the church to take her cues from whatever the world is currently concerned about. We can’t be “led around like a dog on a chain” as one of your commenters put it. But is it ever possible for Christians, Christian ministries, Biblical churches, etc. to see a trend in the world, see also that they themselves have been failing in that area, and genuinely repent of it? How do you discern if you are being played by the world or if you are genuinely convicted of your failures? Thank you so much for your clarity and faithfulness to the Word in these issues.

Lauren

Lauren, yes, I do think that is possible in principle. But given the way people are, and the way the devil works, I do think it unlikely. At the same time, when such a situation arises, I do think we need to go back to the law and the testimony. How sound a biblical case can be made for whatever it is? Too often these fad repentances are awfully thin on the exegesis. They are like a junior high science fair project about stars that then has to find, at the last minute, a verse with stars in it to put on the poster board.


Cordial objections to Calvinism 4.0:

Hi Pastor Wilson, I’m a college student who grew up in the reformed church and currently a catechumen in the Orthodox Church. Focusing just on the subject of soteriology, here are a few problems I have with the Calvinist view. Yes we are dead in our sins, but the key questions seems to me, how we are brought to life? As I see it God offers all a chance to be brought to life and raised up (1 Timothy 2:4 “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”), but many would rather stay in their tombs. The notion of irresistible grace I find unreasonable. It essentially requires the God force his grace down our throats. That is not love. As Jesus makes clear in Luke 10:27, salvation is about loving God. It makes no sense to talk about love without a genuinely free choice, and a choice cannot be a genuine free choice unless there are at least two attainable options. In the Calvinist view, the only option for the unsaved is a rejection of God. If God hauls us in whether we like it or not, that is also a clear violation of freedom. As I see it, we are all drowning in the sea of our sins and receive a life vest on a rope from God. Some will cling onto it for dear life and be saved, others will say, “no thanks, the water is just fine.” There are also many verses I see as irreconcilable with a reformed view of salvation—to name just a couple: Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”—we cannot save ourselves by our own efforts, but we at least have to freely choose to open the door for Christ to come in and save us. I see this verse as irreconcilable with your view that God hauls us in regardless of the disposition of our will towards him. In Matthew 24:13 Jesus says: “but the one who preserves to the end will be saved.” This statement makes no sense unless there is a real possibility of a person being saved or not be saved, the view of predetermination of salvation. I know you know a hell of a lot more about this than I do, so I’m not trying to enter into a debate, just get your perspective. I’m no exegete, so I must rely on the authority of interpretation. As I line up the list of passages that could be used for and against a Calvinist soteriology, there are ones that are difficult to reconcile with both sides. But in in the end, I think you can only holistically read the Bible if you view salvation as a result of both God’s salvific undeserved grace and man’s independent choice to turn away from sin and towards Christ. The fact that Luther tried to get the book of James thrown out of the Bible is a true indicator of how fatally problematic it is for sola fide. I do not see how a purely grace-based theory can explain the passages that describe the need for our works and cooperation with God for salvation, whereas passages on predestination can be explained in the context of a synchronistic understanding of salvation. I know we are not going to change each other’s mind, but would appreciate your response to such objections. I’m sure in matters doctrinal, moral, and political we agree on legions more than we would disagree on, and am sorry to have focused so much on the latter. Thanks for your time, and your work for the kingdom. Regards,

David

David, thanks. Let me touch briefly on some of your key objections. First, in the way you have defined love as dependent on a genuine set of alternatives, you have made it impossible for God to love. He cannot be tempted. So is He not a moral agent? Does He not love? And I don’t see the irresistible nature of grace as a problem either. My physical life was given to me as a sheer gift. I was born without being consulted at all. One could say that it was an irresistible gift. If that way with birth, why not the new birth? And the door in Rev. 3:20 is the door of a church, not the door of our hearts.


Buried This Question at the Bottom

Pastor Wilson—I have traveled almost exactly the same path you have on the political rise of Donald Trump (I supported Ted Cruz, I didn’t trust or vote for Trump, etc.), and found your podcast a couple of months back helpful in discerning the path forward. I’ve come to my conclusion: God seems to have brought us a man in Donald Trump to help lead the fight against the relativistic, idol-worshiping culture we live in. And in the words of the Pharisee Gamaliel, I don’t want to be “found opposing God” (Acts 5:39). So unless some radical change occurs in the direction of the Trump administration and his fight against the Administrative State, I will vote—Lord willing—for Donald J. Trump for president of the United States in 2020. So where are you on this these days?

Bill

Bill, thanks for the pointed question. As you note, I am more interested in seeing what God is doing with Trump than in trying to figure out what Trump is doing. And because I don’t think Trump has an internal worldview gyroscope to guide him, I am going to wait until after the midterms before I start working on this question in earnest. But I will work on it, and I would be doing my thinking out loud here at Mablog.

 

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Armin
Armin
4 years ago

“How do you discern if you are being played by the world or if you are genuinely convicted of your failures? ” Strangely, both can happen simultaneously. This is one of the ways the Lord tests the church. Suppose we take an honest self-assessment and conclude that we are guilty of certain corporate sins that have remained, up until now, unacknowledged or minimized. The question then becomes, how do we respond to our guilt? Do we trust in the blood of Christ as sufficient for our forgiveness, or do we get caught up in a wave of carnal and signally… Read more »

Ian Miller
4 years ago

This seems to have been a very fruitful week. I’ve also been listening to Goldberg’s Remnant podcast, though I haven’t read the book, and have been greatly enriched by it.

Ken B
Ken B
4 years ago

Regarding the issue of socialism. Two things. I have used the argument about envy being at the root of so much socialism with socialists, and unsurprisingly they don’t like it. Yet I have to concede that this is not the only motive they have. A more noble one is a reaction, that I share, that so much wealth is concentrated in the hands of so few who cannot possibly have earned it by doing a job of work. I recently read a book by a left-wing author in a British context (wanting to allow him to challenge my own non-leftist… Read more »

Jane
Jane
4 years ago
Reply to  Ken B

The question is whether it is actually “injustice,” or merely a providence that seems unfair to us, that there are those have far more with apparently far less merit in gaining it, than others. If it is not an actual injustice, then there is no just way of redressing it. Certainly the free market is not free of sin, any system is corrupt, and greed is rampant. Certainly the fortunate wicked can prosper, while the diligent righteous can be poor. But if a person has not actually stolen his money, it is his to dispose of as he wishes, before… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
4 years ago
Reply to  Jane

To slightly paraphrase/update William Jennings Bryan: No one can earn a billion dollars honestly.

Jane
Jane
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

Well, hey, if William Jennings Bryan said it, it must be true?

At any rate, I rather doubt Ken has only billionaires in mind. Over-taxing only them wouldn’t be a drop in the bucket toward leveling things out to help the poor.

JohnM
JohnM
4 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Jane,
Did you Bryan being the one who said makes it untrue? Or that who said it was the point?

Anyway, in the US pretty much nobody is over-overtaxed, not when we are xx-trillions in the hole and nobody wants to give up what they think they have coming. I don’t mind taking proportionally more of it from people who acquired proportionally more in a government sanctioned and supported system that made it all possible for them. It’s not a matter of envy, it’s just pragmatic. Nothing personal. Just business. They should understand that.

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

” I don’t mind taking proportionally more of it from people who acquired proportionally more in a government sanctioned and supported system that made it all possible for them.”

So if someone worked 18 hours a day for several years in a start-up–and they’re now a millionaire–they should get taxed more because they’re in a “government sanctioned and supported system”? How does that work? What about government workers and gov’t contractors…shouldn’t they get taxed the most proportionally? They profit more from gov’t largesse than anyone–many of their jobs should be obsolete or replaced by an app (I speak from experience).

JohnM
JohnM
4 years ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

The start up would never get off the ground without the rules and order and structure made possible only by government, no matter how many hours someone works. That entrepreneur, not to mention executives and major shareholders in established corporations, are also absolutely dependent upon cogs in the wheel, a host of people within and without their organizations, honestly and reliably doing things, in order to accumulate wealth.

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

“The start up would never get off the ground without the rules and order and structure made possible only by government…are also absolutely dependent upon cogs in the wheel, a host of people within and without their organizations”

You’re conflating the gov’t with other cogs in the wheel. It’s like your taking the famous “I, Pencil” essay and giving the gov’t most of the credit–which is exactly the point it’s not making.

JohnM
JohnM
4 years ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

I do rightly conflate all the cogs because, in the context discussed, they all work together, and without them, including the government cogs, we have nothing but pure jungle where nobody makes a million dollars they didn’t outright violently steal.

Jane
Jane
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

“…are also absolutely dependent upon cogs in the wheel, a host of people within and without their organizations, honestly and reliably doing things, in order to accumulate wealth.”

And all those people are getting compensated for the work they do, or they wouldn’t be doing it.

Jane
Jane
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

I meant that there’s no evidence for the statement, and I don’t find the fact that Bryan said it, a particularly compelling reason to take it seriously. I was unnecessarily snarky and I apologize for that.

Other than not minding and thinking you have a better idea of where it should go, what is your rationale for taking things that belong to someone else?

JohnM
JohnM
4 years ago
Reply to  Jane

If the reasoning goes that governments shouldn’t collect taxes because that is wrongly taking what belongs to someone else then *any* kind or level of taxation of *anyone* for *any* purpose is wrong. I realize Libertarian purists will say “exactly so”, but that is not the way I think about it and for what it’s worth I don’t gather that is the way Doug Wilson thinks about it either. If we accept the idea of taxation as legitimate at all then the discussion is about who/what/how/why, but not whether. Unlike Doug I do not believe there is a Biblically mandated… Read more »

bethyada
bethyada
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

I think there are biblical principles. Firstly, all collections were either a poll tax (fixed amount) or a flax tax. Sacrifices were a fixed amount but an allowance was made for the poor (pigeons over sheep). God stated he takes 10%. He warned that the state would take 10% and that was a warning! Tithes are not taxes so hard to compare. Some was for celebration, some was for the priesthood which in part was involved in civil affairs. Taxes probably should be used for community benefits over individual benefits. Charging interest to he poor for food or clothing was… Read more »

Jane
Jane
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

Along with what bethyada said, it needn’t be all or nothing.

There are just purposes for taxes.

Your burden is to show that “this person has too much so take it from him” falls under that.

Unless you’re going to limit taxation to just purposes for which there are warrants, you open up the possibility of there being no such thing as an unjust tax. If you do limit it, then you need to show the warrant, beyond your own opinion that it’s a good idea.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

Hi John, I’m not so sure about that. Assuming that Martha Stewart was unjustly convicted of insider trading (and, frankly, I find the rules about that so puzzling that if I had any money to invest I could easily imagine myself breaking them), I think she has earned her billion dollars honestly. She offers a very good product (quilts, etc.) at a reasonable price, her show entertains a lot of people (even though I thought the segment on how to pour the perfect glass of iced water was ridiculous), and her magazine gives people a lot of pleasure. Stephen King… Read more »

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
4 years ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

If Martha were a politician, she would’ve gotten away with insider trading.
https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-smarter-mutual-fund-investor/2011/12/22/congressional-insider-trading-and-american-hypocrisy

That’s the fault of crony capitalism (not free market capitalism).

OKRickety
OKRickety
4 years ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

Jill, “Oprah gets on my nerves in a big way but she gives innocent pleasure to housewives and lonely shut-ins.” I rather disagree on the latter point. Oprah and her ilk are quite influential, probably intentionally, in what people accept. If Oprah says something is okay, then most of her viewers will agree. For example, I’d be surprised if Oprah thinks sex outside of marriage is wrong. I expect this is reflected in her conversations with her guests on the show. I don’t consider that innocent, even if the viewer finds the conversation pleasant. In contrast, telling the viewer how… Read more »

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  OKRickety

OKR, I haven’t watched enough of her to know. I watch very little TV, but I would be sad to think anyone gets his or her morality from watching a popular talk show!

Farinata
Farinata
4 years ago
Reply to  Ken B

Ken B,

“The poor really are oppressed in many instances. Is it not possible that the tax system can at least in part redress the balance?”

Yes, indeed. One of the signal modes of this oppression is the utter degradation wrought by government money. Such emasculating generosity destroys their character, their families, and their churches, and hamstrings their children. Want among honest folk is a dreadful thing, but replacing material oppression with moral oppression is not much of an improvement.

The way to redress arsenic poisoning is not to dose the patient with Zyklon B.

The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
4 years ago
Reply to  Ken B

Ken, you said:

A more noble one is a reaction, that I share, that so much wealth is concentrated in the hands of so few who cannot possibly have earned it by doing a job of work.

Since when is presumptuousness noble?

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
4 years ago

Like all fallen mortals, I have been guilty of presumptuousness from time to time. It is odd that we apply it upwards but seldom to ourselves. For example, I have wondered what on earth can someone be doing to justify a million dollar annual salary. But when I earned quite a good living writing advertising jingles and slogans in an air conditioned office–something I liked doing so much that I would probably have done it for free–I never wondered why my salary should be three times as high as that of a dishwasher or a daycare worker. I think that… Read more »

The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
4 years ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

Jilly, to sum up your entire comment in one word:

Envy.

Ken B needs to rethink his position. At the end of the day, rationalized envy is still envy, no matter how “noble” he thinks it is.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
4 years ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

I can answer why someone is making a million dollar salary fairly easily. Because someone is willing to pay them that amount. That’s all *any* income is in a free market. Value is determined by the amount someone is willing to pay you for that product (the product in this case being your labor). The only thing that makes a gallon of milk $2 and a diamond $2000 is that people are willing to spend 2000 on a diamond and not on a gallon of milk. Under this (more accurate to a free market) paradigm, nobody anywhere makes too much… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
4 years ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

There’s a sucker born every minute.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

Care to elaborate?

JohnM
JohnM
4 years ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Value is what you can convince someone to pay you for your product. Or put another way, what you can get someone to believe about your product. Market(ing) capitalism would collapse if everyone was honest or if no one was gullible.

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

If it were all based on scams, it would’ve collapsed long ago. We live in an age where you can get (and give) feedback on practically any product or service–from a doctor (HealthGrades) to a can of soup (Amazon). Outside of crony capitalism (like too-big-to-fail banks saved by the gov’t), the only way a business is profitable over the long-term is providing value and giving customers what they want. And yes, some consumers pay a premium for slick marketing or a brand name. But they aren’t going to get away with selling complete junk at triple the price of their… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
4 years ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

Providing value and giving the customers what you convinced them they want are not the same thing. What kind of cereal do you eat for breakfast?

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

Ah, so no one needs cars, frozen vegetables, synthetic fabrics, computers or much of anything else. We’d all be living alongside the Amish if it weren’t for corporate America brainwashing us.

JohnM
JohnM
4 years ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

Consumerism and materialism are the water and sunshine of capitalism. The dilemma posed by capitalism is, the more it succeeds at raising living standards the more true the above becomes.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

The absolute cheapest that is still recognizably cereal! Once it is covered in milk, it all tastes pretty much the same. But do you think that the customer bears some responsibility for not letting himself be fooled by slick marketing? I feel sorry for very naive people whom it is easy to con. But most people are capable of reasonable prudence. I have friends who would practically rather die than patronize a Wal-Mart, not because they object to its labor practices or its effect on smaller businesses, but because they think it is low class. I think it only reasonable… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
4 years ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

I think preferring Whole Foods over Walmart for the class appeal further demonstrates my point. For the record, I shop at both.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

“Market(ing) capitalism would collapse if everyone was honest or if no one was gullible.” You say this as though this is a product of capitalism. It isn’t. It is, objectively, the value of an item. I’ve worked in the collectibles market for years. It doesn’t matter if an official pricing guide declares your item worth an amount. What matters is what the actual buyers you can find will pay you. We could live in a world with no advertising at all, and people would still value iphones and androids differently based on personal preferences even though they’re functionally similar machines.… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
4 years ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

In a world without marketing no one would value iphones or androids at all. I’m not categorically opposed to advertising, which in it’s most basic for is just letting people know “I got this thing and I’m willing to sell it”, but if it’s really something I need I’ll go looking for it, nobody needs to come waving it in front of me, and nobody needs to tell me how fantastic it is when I wasn’t even asking. Actually, John with a big (I forget how big) LED (I think that’s it) TV on the wall thinks the guy who… Read more »

Jane
Jane
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

In a world without marketing, we wouldn’t know about iPhones or Androids, that’s true.

But that’s not the same thing as saying we wouldn’t value them, if we were somehow able to learn about them. If you think the things I do with my cheapie smartphone are not valuable to me, you’re being pretty presumptuous about my ability to judge value.

JohnM
JohnM
4 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Now who convinced you that you need a smartphone to do anything? Or perhaps arranged things so you feel forced to have one?

I want to be presumptuous and presume Jane is someone who *could* get by without a smartphone. Some people no longer know how to do that.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

Not only do I not have a smartphone; I don’t even have a cell phone. I have been given them by people, and they collect dust in drawers. For me, half the point of going out is to enjoy precious alone time where nobody can get hold of me!

JohnM
JohnM
4 years ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

Preach it sister!

Jane
Jane
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

Value is not only limited to the things that you couldn’t live without because there is some substitute means, somewhere, of doing the same things, or if the things it accomplishes are not necessary to life. That’s not a reasonable standard at all. It’s not what anyone means when they use the word “value.”

I don’t need a smartphone to do anything. I value having a smartphone for certain legitimately useful tasks.

JohnM
JohnM
4 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Well, I’m not opposed to convenience, and I agree it is okay to have your porridge warm. Unless you have wasted the entire day on your smartphone, in which case you should be sent to bed with no porridge at all!

If I acknowledge some deliberate overstatment can you acknowledge that one of the things market capitalism does is create “needs”?

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

John, no quarrel there! I can resist most “needs” but my weak spot is sewing machines. As soon as I saw a machine that can take a picture off the Internet and embroider it all by itself, I had to have it. The instructions are so incomprehensible to me that I can scarcely manage to thread it let alone instruct it to embroider Justin Trudeau’s portrait on a sweatshirt!

OKRickety
OKRickety
4 years ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Justin, ’14”-19” big box low res CRT tv’s for $50+‘ TV, monitor, or both? I ask because here in flyover country, I see small TVs left outside as “Free” after garage sales, and I know I can get a 19″ 16:9 flat-screen LCD monitor (and TV?) for $50 at the flea market. It sounds to me like you’ve found a lot of those “suckers born every minute”, not “informed buyers”. “All a final sale price is, is the buyer and seller coming to an agreement on the supply/demand ratio for a product.” I grant that your product apparently has a… Read more »

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Hi Justin, I’m assuming the four were wisdom teeth? Four decades later I remember the pain! Here’s wishing you a very speedy recovery. I think that when I contemplate million dollar salaries, it’s more like thinking about Imponderables like “Why is Greenland ice, but Iceland green?” or “Why do we park in driveways and drive in parkways?” My mother wonders why Dylan has made multi-millions without being able to sing! Of course it comes down to the free market, and while I don’t always like the results, I can’t think of a better system. I think it is sad but… Read more »

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
4 years ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

“You can be the best teacher in the school district and the most in demand by parents and students, but you’re not legally free to negotiate your own contract.” No arguments here. There’s a somewhat incestuous relationship between the Teacher’s unions and the government that basically destroys and concept of having autonomy or independence while being a teacher. “Sometimes I don’t think either the government or individuals are responsible for poverty. ” To be fair, I did leave a third option. The “if there’s something unjust a company did, let’s be specific and talk about that” option. This was a… Read more »

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Justin, I am so sorry. I feel for you. In the last year I have had twelve teeth pulled and four implants installed, which has wiped out one-quarter of my savings! They wanted to do 12 implants at a discounted rate of $40,000. I looked at them piteously and told them I won’t need fancy teeth when I’m living in a cardboard box at the freeway ramp. On the plus side, it only takes me half as long now to brush my teeth. Teeth are the worst, and even excellent dental insurance doesn’t cover most of the cost. I think… Read more »

demosthenes1d
demosthenes1d
4 years ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Milk and diamonds are extraordinarily bad examples (or good depending on your perspective). Milk has price supports (as well as other market modification tactics) in the united states, and many other countries, in order to stabilize supply and pricing. It also has a number of very convoluted trade provisions which modify the market for dairy considerably. There is also a huge amount of rent-seeking in dairy surrounding land use, taxation, and water rights, especially in the SW, which has caused a lot of disparate impact, and environmental calamity. Diamonds were once a cartel, De Beers controlled over 90% of the… Read more »

bethyada
bethyada
4 years ago
Reply to  demosthenes1d

Agreed. The US has too many subsidies. They should have none.

Need examples where there are no subsidies and no oligopoly.

(Paper and watches?)

demosthenes1d
demosthenes1d
4 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

I’m no expert on paper or watches, but it is hard to find an example of a manufactured good that doesn’t have all sorts of government impacts on pricing. For paper much of the forest resources are owned by the federal government which distorts the wood fiber market (one of Julian Simon’s less known best was on timber he lost and blamed the gov). Also, paper companies tend to be major land holders who organize as real estate trusts to avoid taxes, try get additional favorable tax treatment from states and locales through political clout and through agricultural adjustments. Kraft… Read more »

bethyada
bethyada
4 years ago
Reply to  demosthenes1d

We are a small player, and have some regulatory problems. But we had a massive cleanout in the 1990s I believe. So regulations are quite low, and we have one of the quickest times for business startups. But regulations are growing again.

adad0
adad0
4 years ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

Sorry Jilly! You got game!
Even for a Canadian! ????

‘Wonder who endowed you with said game? ????

Sundry Fathers I suspect!
And a mother as well!????

bethyada
bethyada
4 years ago
Reply to  Ken B

I recently read a book by a left-wing author in a British context (wanting to allow him to challenge my own non-leftist thinking) I do similar, though it is best to do this in the context of having a thorough and deep conviction of the truth. Your objections are wealth is concentrated in a few, growing underclass, unearned wealth, oppression of the poor, motivation of greed, men corrupting whatever market system we have. These objections are reasonable as they stand, but utterly unreasonable to attribute them to capitalism or the free market. There are always going to be richer and… Read more »

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

Bethyada, I agree with you that greed is seldom the motivator. I think it is usually an ardent belief in your product or service, and a genuine conviction that it will benefit those who use it. When my injectable migraine drug first came on the market, it cost around $100 a shot, and because it was new, it wasn’t covered by insurance. People were outraged by the cost, but they weren’t considering how many millions it must have cost to bring through development and patient trials. Nor did they consider the risk taken by Big Pharma that ten patients might… Read more »

bethyada
bethyada
4 years ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

Interesting Jill, as medications are something I think are not free-market. The artificial monopoly of a patent system means that pharma are in bed with the government.

I concede that getting a drug to market is not a cheap exercise. Though in part made more expensive than necessary.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

I think the costs in the US are inflated by our general litigiousness, resulting in perhaps unnecessary rounds of clinical trials.

demosthenes1d
demosthenes1d
4 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

Bethyada, just FYI, relative mobility (which is what you are referring to) is lower in the US than in most other developed nations, including Western European nations. Relative mobility increased from 1950-1980, and has been declining ever since.

I’m not convinced that relative mobility is a goal in and of itself, but our economic arrangement doesn’t seem to be exceptional (or even average) at providing it.

bethyada
bethyada
4 years ago
Reply to  demosthenes1d

I was reading recently it was higher in the US than Europe, though this was over 200 years, and was talking about the top wealthy families, not looking at quintile shifts.

I think that quintile shift is probably a good measure (though not a good target) of a free market. Generally I think markets are not free enough in the West. And US regulation is excessive in some areas.

demosthenes1d
demosthenes1d
4 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

Relative mobility has definitely been greater over the past 200 years in the U.S. than in Europe. but that has changed rapidly, it is worth reflecting on, but I don’t think the answer is going to be a just-so story about regulations.

I agree that there are (many) parts of the American economy that are over- or mis-regulated. The CFR is like an impenetrable thicket. But the regulations are there based on past Shelling points, and should only be removed or altered when understood. We should remember the wisdom of Chestertons fence.

bethyada
bethyada
4 years ago
Reply to  demosthenes1d

Sorry to conflate. Answering two questions.

I think that mobility relates to freedom of the market and especially flat taxes and no complex regulation that allows the super rich to maintain wealth by avoiding tax.

I believe the Europe example is that the super rich prevent the middle class from joining them. Policies “for the poor” help maintain this. Though I could be wrong.

I think regulation just makes everything unnecessarily prolonged or stagnant, and is generally anti-free market. It probably disproportionately affects the poor as the rich bride their way through.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
4 years ago
Reply to  Ken B

“that so much wealth is concentrated in the hands of so few who cannot possibly have earned it by doing a job of work.” I don’t really see how these issues are related, as “earning wealth” and “working hard” are not synonyms. What value system are you proposing for who “deserves” to own their own property, and from where did you derive it? ” but it does not have a mechanism for preventing gross injustice in how it is spread” This is too broad to be an idea up for discussion. What kind of injustice are we talking about? Murder?… Read more »

Ken B
Ken B
4 years ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

I think believers need to be very careful they do not mindlessly repeat the mantras of the rich elite. The poor often are poor because of choices they make, but there is a growing underclass in Britain who are poor even though they work ludicrously long hours because the wealth they create is not paid to them, but is ‘taxed’ and paid out in the form of dividends. Some of those who receive such dividends will not have done a day’s work in their lives. But that’s just ‘market forces’ and nothing can be done about it. Why is it… Read more »

The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
4 years ago
Reply to  Ken B

May the fisking begin: I think believers need to be very careful they do not mindlessly repeat the mantras of the rich elite. What are those mantras? Examples, please, with citations of the rich people who coined them. …but there is a growing underclass in Britain who are poor even though they work ludicrously long hours because the wealth they create is not paid to them, but is ‘taxed’ and paid out in the form of dividends. What wealth are the poor creating in this scenario? Unless they’re mining it out of the ground, or growing it in a crop,… Read more »

demosthenes1d
demosthenes1d
4 years ago

This is a frustrating thread to read. When economics comes up we immediately have to fall all over ourselves to signal our virtue (while unwittingly signalling ignorance) and reaffirm our tribal identification. It is a ridiculous purity response. Economies are complicated, and I realize that everyone isn’t going to have a fantastic nuanced grasp, but some basic charity seems to be in order. A discussion of wealth concentration can go one of two ways, it can delve into rent-seeking disparate impact, monetary policy, income taxation differentials, public infrastructure, mobility, executive compensation, etc.; or it can involve labelling the questioners or… Read more »

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
4 years ago
Reply to  demosthenes1d

“When I see a bunch of people dancing around an altar and cutting themselves I’m pretty sure an idol is being challenged.”

I don’t see that with economics on here. It’s a great metaphor for the “woke” crowd trying to outdo each other on #metoo, race and SS attraction, though.

demosthenes1d
demosthenes1d
4 years ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

Usually when ad hominem comes to the fore, especially in a moral judgement sense (hateful, envious, presumptuous, whatever) it is because a taboo has been violated, the sacred is under assault, and the perpetrator must be dismissed or removed.

Also, whenever you see a deep trail of bullshit there are usually sacred cows around.

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
4 years ago
Reply to  demosthenes1d

Would that also include “greed”? As in “greed (which is also a sin) is the motivating factor behind capitalism” in Ken B’s opening post?

When I started as an entrepreneur at the kitchen table, trying to put food on it (I Tim. 5:8), little did I know it was “greed” motivating me. And now whenever I get greedy or selfish (instead of providing value or giving customers what they want), it leads to smaller revenues.

You have to consider Ken’s language and assumptions before the ad hom charge. Envy looks pretty spot-on to me.

demosthenes1d
demosthenes1d
4 years ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

JP,

Absolutely would – “greed is the motivation for capitalism” is a slogan at best – it may describe some objectivist takes, but that’s about it (also, there is a major definition issue here…what is “capitalism”). The whole thread is frustrating, including Ken and John’s contributions. And honestly, mine probably isn’t much better… writing while frustrated is poor form.

The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
4 years ago
Reply to  demosthenes1d

Demo, you said:

This is a frustrating thread to read.

I agree. How many times does the human race have to try socialism, with The Right People In Charge This Time, We Promise™, only to have it yet again fail abysmally in its stated goals, before we finally figure out that a) it simply does not work, and b) many, if not most, of the elites pushing it have ulterior motives?

It is frustrating to see people like Ken B who simply refuse to learn from history.

bethyada
bethyada
4 years ago

Ken is right that there were issues with the Thacther era. I suspect we will disagree on where the problem lay.

Ken B
Ken B
4 years ago

Only a couple of things. You didn’t enjoy the Thatcher era like I did, there were plenty of mantras around then, and I was one who used to repeat them. I then realised late in the day that the ‘market’ had become the idol of the right as the state had become the idol of the left. As for dividends, wealth created by the workforce is creamed off (what I meant by ‘taxed’ to show the irony of it) and paid to investors. I used to work in the City of London doing this very thing, and know first hand… Read more »

bethyada
bethyada
4 years ago
Reply to  Ken B

Ken, I think your comments from James are helpful, but I (personally) think that when it comes to wealth in the Bible we look at rich and poor and not the why. From a broader reading of Scripture it seems that oppression of the poor is the main problem. So James opposed the rich because they oppressed the poor (wouldn’t pay them agree to wages). The other problem is when the rich put their hope in money. Though I think that a personal issue, not a government one. If I am rich because of dishonest gain then there is reason… Read more »

The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
4 years ago
Reply to  Ken B

Ken, you said: You didn’t enjoy the Thatcher era like I did, there were plenty of mantras around then, and I was one who used to repeat them. I then realised late in the day that the ‘market’ had become the idol of the right as the state had become the idol of the left. I’ve never lived in the formerly Great Britain, so no, I didn’t enjoy the Thatcher era like you did. However, I did enjoy the Reagan era, and I see that Trump is continuing the Reagan tradition of strong American leadership, which we have been sorely… Read more »

Matt
Matt
4 years ago

If no one has rights, then you don’t get Rousseau, you get the jungle. In the jungle the strong thrive and the weak get out of the way or get trampled. Rights as a concept benefit the weak, as the strong don’t need them. Whether they derive from religion is ultimately irrelevant, though it may affect the persuasiveness of the idea.

JohnM
JohnM
4 years ago
Reply to  Matt

Matt, I think the point is, if they don’t derive from religion, or more specifically a true knowledge of God, then they don’t derive at all. Without that knowledge what you get is indeed the jungle, which in varying degrees in different times and places, is just what mankind has got.

ashv
ashv
4 years ago
Reply to  Matt

God has rights. Man has duties.

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
4 years ago

Since DW’s latest post is on Revoice, it’s worth noting they’re disinviting (and refunding the money) for certain attendees. Among them are Peter LaBarbera, Stephen Black (ex-gay pastor). You can see the email they’re sending here: http://pulpitandpen.org/2018/06/18/revoice-conference-blacklist-on-conservatives-continue-now-rejects-ex-gay-christian/ None of these men made threats to disrupt the conference, cause a scene, etc. It’s a bit ironic since hipsters like the Revoicers talk frequently about “open dialogue,” “starting conversations,” etc. Instead it looks like they’re trying to control the narrative and suppress opposing voices. Singer/pastor Steve Camp said he wanted to come with an open Bible to discuss and was told they… Read more »

mys
mys
4 years ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

JP-
You and I seem to read the same stuff every week. It’s funny.
Also…Trump 2020.

bethyada
bethyada
4 years ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

From your article, Dallas church sets “Make America Great Again” to music,

I assume a rhetorical flourish (worthy of our Mrs Smith); but if actually true…?!

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
4 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

If true? Then there’s one church singing MAGA, thousands singing sappy “Jesus is My Boyfriend” ditties that make Air Supply look masculine, and probably others singing “social justice” songs straight from the DNC playbook. I’m not a fan of any of it.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

That stuff makes me cringe with embarrassment; I can only imagine how a guy must feel.

ashv
ashv
4 years ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

And you could tell from the start it was going to go this way when they use a phrase like “sexual minority”. If you’re a Christian, perverse desire can’t be part of your identity, just a temptation you fight against.

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
4 years ago
Reply to  ashv

Yeah, the whole idea of identifying with sin is baffling. Should a Christian identify as a porn user, who holds conferences to see what treasures the porn culture can bring to the Kingdom…as long as they abstain from actual porn viewing?

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
4 years ago

Duplicate post-disregard.

bethyada
bethyada
4 years ago

I have read today’s post on shame and JP’s link to the American Thinker and some of the quotes. I think there is some reason to be a little more cautious here. Wilson’s point, this is the thin edge of the wedge. Point taken. Quite possibly. It wouldn’t be the first time dishonest people with ulterior motives lied about their motivations. And Lopez’s point about how fishy and hypocritical everything is. Yet, we still have to deal with the fact that things can be more subtle than we are framing them. And that subtlety can be necessary, or useful rhetorically,… Read more »

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
4 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

Bethyada, your post exhibits selection bias, apparently in the spirit of being cautious and not breaking “bruised reeds” (Moore? Greear? the Revoice guys?) Besides Tushnet, you overlooked many, many problems with Revoice, the SBC convention, the ERLC, etc. Here are just a few questions that need to be answered: 1) Why did Thomas Littleton get kicked out of the latest SBC convention? Why hasn’t Moore or his staffer responded? Is putting your hands on someone (as the staffer did), reporting them to the police and then gloating about it a Christian way of behaving? Shouldn’t the ERLC have its own… Read more »

bethyada
bethyada
4 years ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

JP, I note that when Jesus is asked about something he always addresses the person’s issues. So I think Jesus wants to bring healing to people that have been mistreated, and is for justice, but it is interesting how things get put back on the person. My brother needs to share his inheritance. Be wary of covetousness Let me bury my father. Let the dead bury their own dead So while I am prepared to accept Revoice is dodgy (it certainly looks like it), and I did not have an issue with Patterson ‘s story to the uptight mum, I… Read more »

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
4 years ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

Also, if Russ Moore doesn’t have time to keep up with Revoice, how the heck does he have time to take part in rap videos (along with other famous Moore…”Beth”):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnYmjR4vs6o&t=1s

After watching that, it’s little wonder why some Evangelicals move to Catholicism or E. Orthodoxy.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

I have never heard rap (the c is silent) in a Catholic church, but I once saw a nun in a leotard do a liturgical dance for the Our Father. My nerves have still not yet fully recovered. I was a young adult but my students were traumatized. For ever after, Sister Mary Bernice became Sister Mary Bare-Knees.